Leela

Moving Comfort Endurance dress: review

Posted on June 8, 2014 by

Let’s start here: Moving Comfort makes INCREDIBLE sports bras.  So when I saw that they were making dresses for being active in, I was thrilled.  YAY, I thought.  The bra plus a skirt!

Not so fast.

My dress is an XL in black, and runs true to size.  Empire-waisted, with obvious seams, it is not suitable for a formal office but meets my standard of “business casual” in a pinch.  The fabric does have a sheen to it, and there is a logo down the middle of the back.  The dress is a little tight around my middle only because I am apple shaped.  None the less my therapist said I looked “professional” in the dress with a linen shirt over it.

The bra is a shelf bra with MASSIVE elastic underneath it.  This saddens me because MC makes SUCH AMAZING sports bras, and I had high hopes that they had simply attached a bodice and skirt to a bra.  That would be my ideal.

This bra is not sufficient for any kind of bouncy exercise.  It is, however, just fine for going out and about.  Unfortunately, the wide elastic then must be combined with a real sports bra (I use one by Moving Comfort, of course) for exercise which means a LOT of ribcage compression.  On the upside, when you’re done you can remove the sports bra and still be reasonably dressed.  Also, if your chosen form of exercise involves being upside-down, the built in shelf bra can be a handy asset.

Because I’m short (5’2″) and apple shaped, the bodice tends to scrunch up under the bustline, which is a little awkward but has the result of putting the fuller part of the skirt where it belongs.

Length: it’s a little long in the torso for me, but again, I’m short.  The skirt is just about perfect, several inches above the knee, and completely nonrestrictive.  The fabric is heavy–the weight of a lined swimsuit.

Color choices: I think this dress may be discontinued, as I can’t find it on the website for the current season.  It was either black or multi–would love to have seen it in a bright red or cheerful tangerine or soothing aqua.  I do hope they haven’t discontinued the idea of the running dress entirely–it has a lot of merit, and their version is really lovely.  You can even go commando if you don’t plan to bend over…

Got a favorite exercise solution for the apple shape?  Tweet it! #iamanathlete

on gender and dresses

Posted on June 8, 2014 by

I am an athlete.

Athletes, as I am discovering, come in ALL shapes and sizes and other things.

Do not let your brain determine who is an athlete and who is not.  It will be wrong.

Now generally I consider myself female-gender nonconforming.  What does this mean?  It’s complicated, but for the sake of simplicity let’s just say this: as a general rule I don’t do pink and I don’t do dresses.

Except lately I do.

Because what being truly me in this body means to me is that I’m living, as much as possible, in authenticity.  I want to really be me, and hell with what all y’all think.

Of course, authentic me does, to some extent, care what you think.  I want you to have as accurate a picture of me as possible.  I also want to honor your limits.  If you don’t want to see random nudity, I want to make it possible for you to avoid seeing it on my website.  I might have it up here somewhere (not yet, but it’s possible) but if I did I would give you the chance to make a choice about whether or not to see it.  Consent, it’s sexy.

But I’m not really willing to change what I do because you don’t like it.

Or because you think something about it that I wish you wouldn’t think.

Which brings me to dresses.

When I traveled to India 15 years ago, I chose to wear Indian clothing while I was there.  In India at the time, clothing was pretty sharply gendered.  But what I discovered is that when everyone wears the same thing, the definition of what that thing means has to get bigger, not smaller.

So people wore “girl clothes” and climbed scaffolding with pots full of cement; people wore “girl clothes” and worked in factories.  People wore “girl clothes” and did everything.

And I realized this: our clothing has become limited in its meaning because we have allowed ourselves more flexibility.  If I don’t feel “girly” I don’t have to wear “girl clothes”.  I can express my inner non-girly-ness by wearing jeans and an oxford shirt and a tie.  (I wouldn’t because I don’t like wearing ties.  but I digress.)

So when I wear a dress, it signals “girly” because I had a choice about whether or not I wore it.  I can play with it, but regardless of what I intend it becomes a public flag about my gender.

Except!

Except.

Dresses and skirts (and kilts!) are practical fuckers.  As I’ve said recently, dresses are particularly suited to apple shaped bodies (NB: of all genders) because they don’t rely on waist tightness to stay on.   I have a Utilikilt that I love the hell out of because I can do ANYTHING in it,and for some reason it doesn’t fall down like most of my waist-based garments do.  It seems to cinch below my belly.  Shoutout to them for figuring out how to do this a little better.

So now we have a dilemma, if we are practical, which I am.

On the one hand, society has decided that non-bifurcated garments are for people who express at least a certain minimum of femininity. (At some point I will rant my rant about hair on my legs and wearing skirts).

On the other hand, for many of us of many genders, the non-bifurcated (skirt-like) form is super useful.  If you are into draped clothing, it is also hella easier to drape.

My conclusion: practical trumps what the culture has decided.  I have decided: this is what I look like, this is what I wear.

One of the most liberating things I have realized is that I can do any damn thing I want in a dress.

Fortunately utilikilts and running dresses have taken the delicate out of skirts and dresses so I can sit on the ground and run my feet off with impunity.  I’d love to see a cotton twill tunic…

So you may see reviews of running dresses here.  Because I’m wearing them and I have opinions.  And that is that.

What do you think about reclaiming all garment shapes for all people?  Tell us!  Tweet #genderanddresses #iamanathlete

pain is information

Posted on May 27, 2014 by

I went running this morning.  Just a short run, on the beach.  it’s 50 degrees and windy, and this is my first .run. this season, and my first barefoot run.

You saw my clothing rant–today’s solution: running dress from Mountain Hardwear (size L) (shoutout to them for also having a men’s kilt!) with a wind-resistant fleece (LL Bean.  I live in Maine) and a Moving Comfort bra (they rock.  Totally completely rock.).  Bare feet (running on packed sand ftw) and bare legs.

Result: exactly the way it should be.  I didn’t notice anything bouncing or chafing or otherwise distracting from my workout.

That said, it was cold.  I ran until I felt like walking (my usual start-exercising routine.  It works.) and once I slowed down my much-neglected calves started cramping.

What I didn’t do: “push through it”

What I did do: keep moving.  Because cold plus stillness equals trouble.

I stretched and eased and moved and kept walking.

And I cut my workout a little shorter than usual.  Generally I go about 3 miles walking and running.  Today, more like 1.

Why?

1) pain is information.  It tells you something’s not right.  I don’t believe in ignoring it.

2) working out should be fun and enjoyable.  This doesn’t mean you can’t challenge yourself but it does mean not making yourself miserable.  If I’m miserable today, I likely won’t go tomorrow.  Today I get points for going in the drizzly, grey, cold morning.  Things I will remember: that I wasn’t cold once I started moving, that running felt good, that I recovered easily.  Things I won’t remember because they didn’t happen: that I was miserable, unhappy, or sick afterwards.  The thing about movement is that when it feels good we do more of it.  It felt good to move.  I’ll remember that.  Plus, I got to pet a friendly dog.

I am an athlete.  Therefore I listen to my body.  It makes me want to move, and it makes me want to take good care of it.

How do you want to take care of your body when you’re moving?  Tweet it! hashtag #Iamanathlete

 

what not to wear…to work out

Posted on May 19, 2014 by

I wish someone would pay attention.

Anyone.

Nike, Mountain Hardwear, Patagonia, EMS, REI, MEC, Danskin, Title 9, Junonia, I don’t care.

We’ll leave Lululemon out of this for obvious reasons.

There’s a big problem in the athleticwear world, and I’ve just about had it.

If you are apple-shaped (waist bigger than hips) and over, say, size 12, they don’t make athletic gear that STAYS UP.  This is especially true for women, I suspect.  If I am going to bounce around, I want my clothes to STAY ON MY BODY.

Not fall down.

Not need to be hitched up.

Not, by all that is holy, trip me when they end up around my ankles.

Occasionally I find a pair of shorts that works.  Sometimes.  The rest of the time, all the well-meaning leggings and carefully-designed yoga pants roll down under my waist and slowly scootch down until they hit the point of no return, or until I yank them back into place while trying to continue to move.

It makes me nuts.  In fact, it makes me NOT go running.  How do men deal with this?  I have no idea.  Even Junonia, which is generally really good about making athleticwear (in feminine styles only)  in larger sizes, designs most of their gear assuming hourglass and pear shapes, which means there are hips to hang things on.

In the end, I have resorted to running dresses, which are the only logical solution.  They still cover the important bits, but they do so by hanging from my shoulders, which are apparently close enough to regulation proportions to keep things where they belong.

Mind, I have not historically been a dress-type-person.  But I AM practical, and if a dress solves a problem, I am generally willing to go with “solution” over “random cultural hangup I developed in third grade”.  I had my reasons, but I have my reasons about dresses, too.  In fact, my transition back to wearing skirts came when I acquired a Utilikilt. Think Robin Hood.  He wore tights…But I digress…

So on the topic of running dresses: yay!  A practical solution.  Now, could we please get them in sizes and cuts that accommodate apple shapes?  Because, dear sportspeople, there are LOTS of us who like to move who are not sturdy hourglass-12’s or willowy and spare 2’s.  (And what about the men? We’re not that advanced as a culture yet.) I am somewhere between a 14 and a 16 unless you’re a different kind of size in which case I might be something else.  Yay manufacturer sizing.  And my waist and hips are usually the same, unless it’s the week of my period in which case my waist might well be bigger.

This is especially irksome when I see people who make athleticwear grumbling that more people should get in shape.  If you want us in shape, MAKE US SOME CLOTHES.  *ahem* Have you ever tried to work out in jeans?  I have, because my jeans stay on my body.

Nuu-Muu (linked above) has absolutely come the most consistently close to this.  Their size chart indicates that I could reasonably order an XL and have a chance of it fitting.  Thank you, Nuu-Muu.  I notice your Ocean dress is sold out in XL and apparently not offered in XXL.  Sadface.  Further, you have SO MANY cool prints that aren’t even available in the larger sizes, like, ever.  Why?

Still, here’s what I love: the length, designed for actual movement.  The prints, designed for actual humans.  The style, high necked enough to actually use for actual exercise.  Win, win, win.

Mountain Hardwear made the dress I’m wearing right now.  Too long, and too deep in front, but it looks halfway decent which is more than I can say for the other brands I’ve tried on.

Apple shape, people.  If I’m paying $70-$90 for a dress, I want something that’s comfy and flattering both.

And here’s another idea: for those of us who sometimes need pants under our dresses (either because we do a lot of inversions, like in dance, or because we don’t live in California), how about a secret hidden way to hook the pants or shorts to the dress, so they can’t fall down, while still making it easy to use the toilet?

And what about the men?  Exercise kilts?  I’m listening.

Also: How about women’s board shorts that come in XL and higher?  Those are nice technical fabrics with drawstrings built in.  If you can find ones that fit, those suckers .don’t. come. down.  Score!  I’d wear men’s, but they’re usually so long they look like capris.

Gramicci has some great climbing pants with built in belts and gusseted crotches.  That’s what I’m talking about.  How about that design with a little spandex built in, for when I’m not rock climbing?

I’d love to exercise without shocking anyone’s mother.  That’s all.  If I could do it without breaking the bank, too, that’d be great but I know I want my clothes made by people making a living wage.

Might I suggest a focus group of round athletes to help with brainstorming and design?

Who’s with me?

Tweet it!  What’s your athleticwear beef?  How do you handle apple-shaped-action? #apple #Iamanathlete

 

anyone can dance

Posted on May 18, 2014 by

I waited to pee for 45 minutes this morning.

I was too busy dancing to stop.

This is nothing short of a miracle.

**

When I was…oh That Age, about sixth grade, I discovered that I couldn’t dance.

This was a wee bit of a surprise, seeing as how I’d been contra dancing since I was ten and could learn all the moves on my mom’s aerobics TV shows.

But that thing that people did when they went to school dances?  It made me feel weird.

Much later I would discover that this was about improvisation + getting it wrong + being judged + feeling sexy when I moved + knowing that wasn’t something I wanted in public or at school, but at the time it was all I knew that I couldn’t dance.

Could. Not.

And in fact, it stayed like that for a good long time.  Twenty years.  Twenty years of yes-I-can-learn-that-routine and of-course-I-can-contra but no-I-won’t-get-on-that-dance-floor.

Plus, the music was WAY too loud and it hurt my ears.

(There is NOTHING uncooler than insisting that you need earplugs to be in the same room as the speakers.  Except sticking toilet paper in your ears because the teachers say you must be in the room with everyone else.)

Fast forward, fast forward.

It was 2009 when I finally really unravelled the mystery.  I was at, of all things, a business conference, targeted mostly at women, in New York City.  The incredibly unshy Marie Forleo had everyone UP and DANCING between every speaker.  The vast majority (VAST) of the attendees were straight women, so that entire meat market feeling was missing.

And I danced.

Just for fun, no one watching, because the beat was good.

I

danced.

!

And the very old key turned in the very rusty lock, and I started to occupy my body in that particular way for the first time.

fast forward a few more years.

A friend says, “You really need to try contact improv.”  And then she takes me there and yes, I really should have tried it about ten years ago, but I wasn’t ready.

And then I go home and contact improv is waiting there, waiting for me to find it, along with related dance experiences like Dance Sunday.

Which brings me to this morning, and needing to pee.

I was dancing at Dance Sunday, which is two hours of uninterrupted music during which you can dance in just about any way you choose, with others who are present or solo.  I was mostly solo, and dropped right into the experience, the movement, the music, blissfully not thinking about anything, just present with the dance.

I noticed I had to pee, but didn’t want to stop–the greater pleasure will generally win–so I figured I’d wait until the music started to come down from the peak of the parabola.

It was 45 minutes, 45 more minutes of serious movement, partnered, alone, partnered, 45 minutes of being lost in the experience before something came on that broke my focus and I was willing to pause and go the bathroom.

This is what athletics feels like to me: not pressure to perform, not forcing myself to keep going keep going keep going, but a deep desire to do more of what is giving me such joy that I don’t want to interrupt it, not for anything, not even to pee.

Afterwards there was a picnic on the grass and lovely conversation and good company with some of the dancers.

And now I’m tired.  And plotting to make dance clothes.

I am an athlete, and this is what it looks like when art meets sport.

When have you forgotten yourself in the movement?

Tweet it! #Iamanathlete to follow the conversation.

you are what you claim

Posted on May 16, 2014 by

Years ago I knew a kid.

He was seven.

He was visiting me in the woods of Maine.

And he arrived, unpacked his portable Nintendo, and announced with great confidence, “I’m more of an indoor-type person.”

Indeed he was.

He spent the week with his Nintendo, camped out in the middle of my living room floor.

His sister and brother and mother and some other friends and I all spent a bunch of time tromping around the woods.  But he was an indoor person, and indoors he mostly stayed.

He is, in fact, still an “indoor-type person”.

He is many other things as well.

But I have found that making declarations like that, for better and for worse, can be very powerful.

What have you declared yourself to be in your head?  How often do you think or say, “I’m not that kind of person”?

Not the kind of person who makes friends easily or has that much money or is good at cooking or likes adventures or….

and what is so integrated in your identity that you’re sure nothing could root it out?  Are you a geeky person or a beautiful person or a creative person or a disorganized person or…?

Our earliest en-title-ments come from our families and our peers.

Are you a bookworm?  An athlete?

Who said so?

Who said not?

What would you like to be?

Once upon a time there was a magician who appeared to (you) and promised you could be anything you wanted.  Which titles would you pick out of the hat if you had it to do over again right now?

Why not pick them?

I’m running an experiement right now.  I’m claiming “athlete”.  I am an athlete.

Because I like to move my body, I’m an athlete.

Because I like to stretch my phyiscal abilities I’m an athlete.

I am an athlete.

Right now.

What are you?

#Iclaim

(and are you an athlete?  Tell us on Twitter!  #Iamanathlete)

I am an athlete. Therefore…

Posted on May 15, 2014 by

If I am an athlete, I eat to feed the body I enjoy moving. I eat like an athlete, wisely and with confidence.  I might have a restricted diet or I might not.

If I am an athlete, I like to move! I move every day some. I make time for it.

If I am an athlete, I wear clothes that fit, that move with me, that stay on. I don’t have time for pants that fall off when I bounce!

If I am an athlete, I need good, sound, solid sleep.  It’s okay to make that happen.

If I am an athlete, it is reasonable for me to spend money on appropriate gear and tools. That might be clothes, that might be equipment. I meet myself where I am, at this skill level, and expect that I will replace and upgrade when needed.

If I am an athlete, I may choose to train with someone. Having guidance as I train is smart.

If I am an athlete, I have every right to be in the gym, on the trail, in the pool, trying on running shoes.  I can take up space.  I do not need to shrink in the face of other people who are “real athletes” because I am, in fact, a real athlete

I am an athlete.

And you are, too.  What’s true for you?

Join the conversation on Twitter! Hashtag #iamanathlete

I am an athlete

Posted on May 14, 2014 by

I had a revelation recently.  It’s late in coming, considering.  But here it is: I am an athlete.  No, really.

In my ecosystem this was simply impossible for the longest time.  My father ran marathons.  My best friend ran three seasons of track.  People I knew belonged to football and softball and baseball teams.  They liked screaming encouragement at their teammates from the sidelines and had other rituals that I couldn’t fathom, including caring who won the game.

And if that was athleticism, I wasn’t it.

It was only very recently that I finally figured it out: my longing to go kayaking more often, the way I get lost in the puzzle of rock climbing (even at a gym), that business of walking-forever-if-I-want-to, the immersion of hiking at my pace with my two feet, that’s athletic.

And I am an athlete.

I don’t have six-pack abs or a fat-free body.  I don’t wear my ponytail pulled through the hole in the back of a baseball cap.  I don’t spray my friends with Gatorade or talk smack or really care who wins the game.  I don’t need to.

I like to move my body, this one right here.  The one that confuses and perplexes and astonishes and annoys me.  The one that dehydrates easily and isn’t as strong as I want it to be.  The one that changes size and shape on a weekly basis  The one that blessedly (touch wood) doesn’t give me lower back trouble and has always managed to survive whatever I asked it to do.  The one that has walked all over everywhere.

This one.

This is my body.  And I am an athlete.

Are you, too?  Claim it right here in the comments or on Twitter with hashtag #Iamanathlete.  Tell me about it.  What makes you an athlete?

 
tweet it!
 

more exercise, better sex

Posted on February 1, 2014 by

Q&A time!

I was talking with my amazing friend Devon Clement today (about business and life) and she said, “Wait, working with you will make me want to exercise?  Where do I sign up?”  And I laughed.

Because, yeah, it will.

And then she asked,

 “So I’ve always wondered: I have these two friends who love to exercise–they run, they walk, the first thing they want to do on a nice day is go for a bike ride.  They have amazing orgasms at the drop of a hat, too…are those two things related?”

And I said,

YES.

Exercise and good sex (and orgasms) are (often) related for a few different reasons.

1) When you exercise, you kick off all kinds of happy brain chemicals.  Those chemicals fight depression and anxiety and make you happier.  Even the Mayo Clinic has information on it.  In fact, recent research shows that exercise may be as effective as antidepressants for a large number of people.  (Your mileage may vary, I’m not a doctor.  PLEASE don’t change anything about your treatment regimen unless you and your health care professionals have figured it out.)  That brain chemistry is ALSO the brain chemistry that sets the stage for good sex, good connection, and good orgasms.  Which, coincidentally, strengthens your resistance to depression…it’s a beautiful cycle of natural chemical yay.

2) When you exercise, you have two options: you can ignore your body (NO PAIN NO GAIN) or you can pay attention to it (Wow, that’s painful.  Maybe I should adjust my stride or my posture.)  As you pay attention to it more, you are practicing occupying your body.  Think about putting on socks.  Usually you put them on in the morning and then you don’t even feel them during the day.  You need your brain for other things.  But when you’re exercising, it’s you and your body, present, together.  If something feels off-kilter, imbalanced, or badly adjusted, you can notice and fix it.  If you can’t fix it, you can change activities.  The more you pay attention to your body, the better you get at paying attention to your body (yay, practice!) and that attention will gradually teach you what it feels like to exist, what it feels like to be in your body.  When you’re accustomed to feeling your body all the time, then you start to notice the tiny cues that lead to feeling sexy.  You notice all the times during the day when you feel good, and you pay attention to them.  Paying attention creates a kind of bookmark in your brain, so your brain can remember and get back to that feeling more easily.  Eventually, you can choose to walk around almost all the time (unless something terrible is happening) with just a little bit of a turn-on.  And feeling the sensations in your body more makes you a better lover for yourself and more receptive and aware of the awesome feelings that come from someone else touching you.  That heightened awareness then becomes instinctive, freeing your conscious mind for making love to a partner.

3) Which brings us to the third thing.  When you’re exercising regularly, you tend to feel better about and in your body.  Your body is likely to be stronger and happier to do what you ask without protesting.  You may or may not get more positive messages from the culture and people around you, but you will feel the difference.  You will feel better, which means that your body will be a less uncomfortable place to be, which means you will be more willing to feel the sensations it’s sending you.

 

And now a final note: I used the word exercise here, because that’s what most of us recognize.  But the fact of the matter is that we are born to move.  Watch any 5 year old left to their own devices and you’ll see a kid who runs and wiggles and squirms and climbs and plays as much as possible, and only sits down when they’re exhausted.  Until we are taught to sit still for the good of the classroom or the dinner table, we’re pretty much always on the go.  We’re built to play, and our bodies are pretty good at it.  If you allow your body to move the way it wants to, when it wants to, you’ll probably discover how much more active you are than you think.  But to feel the fidgets that you’ve been taught to repress all your life, you have to feel what it’s like to be in your body.  You have to know when that discomfort isn’t about needing to re-cross your legs but is instead about needing to do the Hokey Pokey or run around the block.  So if you’re not sure where to start with “exercise” or if you hate “exercise”, drop “exercise” and think of it as movement or as play.  Let yourself play.  Sprint for ten seconds, then walk, panting, then sprint, then do a handstand (against a wall if you need to!) and then notice that you’re upside-down and wonder how many pushups you can do that way.  Try it.  Fall back to your feet.  Dance like a little kid who barely knows how to stand up.  Dance with no music.  Wiggle your butt.  Fall on your ass.  Laugh like crazy.  Go rock climbing.  Go swimming and do a cannonball. Movement is fun.  Movement is play.  Give yourself permission to follow your body wherever it leads, and go there with both feet.

So the summary:

  • Exercise = movement = play
  • Exercise (play)–>better brain chemistry–>better sex.
  • Exercise (play)–>more consistent and better body awareness–>better sex
  • Exercise (play)–>feeling better in your body and having a better relationship with your body–>better sex

Go play!  And have better sex.  What have you got to lose?

 

the pleasure map

Posted on January 10, 2014 by

Darlings, it’s here!

And I am bouncing off the walls.  

I don’t know about you, but I have a lot more ideas than I ever see to completion.  In programming this is called an iterative process–you make a rough something, get it out there as fast as possible, see how it does, make changes, repeat.

A lot of my ideas never get past the idea stage, or past the first page of notes.

This one, however, was different.

Partially because it has a particular motivation.

Partially because it was requested by a specific group of people.

Partially because I got someone else involved. (and Katie is an AMAZING illustrator with a whole slew of credits to her name. If you don’t know her work, you should.)

And partially because it was self-motivating.  The more it moved, the more it moved, which is incredible when it happens, and rare.

 

And here’s the result: an educational poster like you have never seen one before.